DUSHANBE, April 8, 2011, Asia-Plus -- The first generating lie of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant will be introduced into operation in 2½ years, Minister of Energy and Industries Gul Sherali announced at a news conference in Dushanbe on April 7.

“If we consider all complaints of our neighbors and do not complete construction of the Roghun HPP, the power supply situation in our country will deteriorate even more,” Gul Sherali said.

According to him, regular power supply in the country will become possible only after introduction into operation of the Sangtuda-2 HPP and the first generating line of the Roghun HPP.  “Otherwise, we will not be able to avoid energy crisis,” the minister stressed.   

Asked about date for blocking the Vakhsh to further the construction of the Roghun HPP, Gul Sherali noted that the date would be defined after full rehabilitation of outlet tunnels.  “It is not so difficult to dam the river but one of two outlet tunnels remains unrepaired,” the minister said, noting that those outlet tunnels built in the Soviet time already had been damaged by flood in the early 1990s.

“The work on rehabilitation of the first outlet tunnel has already been completed and some 6,000 people are now involved in rehabilitation of the second outlet tunnel,” Gul Sherali said.

Construction of the Roghun HPP was started around 1980 and was stopped in 1992.  Since then, the Government of Tajikistan has allocated a minimum budget to continue works on a low key and maintenance basis.  Currently most of the site preparation works as well as an estimated 70% of the underground works have reportedly been completed.  The installed capacity is proposed to be 6x600 MW (totaling 3,600 MW) and the annual power generation would be 13,300 GWh.  Despite significant storage, Roghun HPP is expected to produce electricity in Tajikistan and develop irrigation in the region.  The majority of the electricity to be produced by Roghun HPP is expected to be exported.

To raise funds to complete construction of the Roghun HPP the government started to sell shares in Roghun to people on January 6, 2010.  Tajikistan has reportedly issued 6 billion somoni (US$1.37 billion) worth of Roghun shares.  To-date, the sale of Roghun shares has earned the government 830 million somoni (equivalent to 188.5 million U.S. dollars).  The national budget for this year has earmarked 800 million somoni for Roghun’s construction.

These plans have raised serious concerns across the border in Uzbekistan.  Uzbek officials argue that because it could take up to 18 years to fill, the Roghun project will severely reduce the amount of water flowing into Uzbekistan.

In March 2010, the government of Tajikistan and the World Bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation to achieve sustainable development of Tajikistan''s energy resources, secure supply of energy services to the people of Tajikistan and promote balanced economic growth.  Under this document, the techno-economic, the environmental and social impact assessments for the Roghun hydroelectricity project will be conducted Hydropower Project (HPP)